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by Kit Chapman


"It's a crate of bloody cauliflower," I shouted.

"A what?" said Laura, my Russian wife as she pulled her dressing gown cord tight and walked into the hall from the kitchen.

I pointed downwards towards the open front door step.

"Cheort pobiri!" she muttered and took a step into the front garden, screwed up her eyes and tried to peer through the early morning mist towards the road that ran through our village.

"Did you order it?" I said, following her gaze, not bothering about translations.


Neither had I. We had only been living in the village for a week and hardly knew anyone. In fact we had only been living in Cornwall for a month or two before we had found this dream cottage and decided to end our roamings around the oceans of the world. We settled down to another sort of life, this time one of domesticity, between four solid Cornish granite walls.

'Well,' I said. 'Never look a gift horse in the mouth' and with a last guilty glance up and down the road, pulled the wooden slatted box into the hall.

Laura started mumbling away in Russian again, she often mumbled away in her native language when she was worried or agitated. Swore like a Cossack as well, when the mood took her.

'I'll go and have a pint at the local when they open,' I said, giving her a sideways glance and waiting for that Russian trait she had of blowing raspberries when she could see through my ploy...I wasn't disappointed.

'Open!' she said after her lips had stopped reverberating, 'They never close.'
'Just to see if I can find out where it came from.' I replied quickly, and departed just as quickly into the kitchen

Now, it is one of life's' unwritten laws, that when buying a house or settling down into a new community, one must, before settling on the residence of your loved ones dreams, pop into the local pub and see what is what. After all, village life revolves around the local. The focal point of activity and gossip is to be found not as in days of old around the pulpit of the parish church, listening to sermons of hell and damnation but leaning up against the font of mild and bitter eve- dropping on the drunken ramblings of local imbibers. After all, if one is going to fit into village life, especially in the far west of Cornwall, large proportion of ones waking hours are going to be spent leaning up against the bar, and some unwaking hours come to that, so a decent beer and a genial landlord are prime requirements.

It was with this in mind that, at about ten thirty, I bade Laura farewell and beat a hasty exit out of the back door and sauntered up to the Trevelyan Arms, a walk of five minutes uphill, which turned out to be a blessing when coming down, as it was then down hill and aided the bodily parts that Geoffrey's, the excellent landlord's, beer had done adequate justice to.

'Mornin' me 'ansome', he said, by way of greeting as I strode over the Trevelyan's threshold. He called out that greeting to everybody. It is a time honored way in Cornwall; everybody uses it to greet any man, or woman, come to that.

'Morning Geoffrey,' I said, not wishing at this stage in the proceedings to lapse into the vernacular.

'Usual?' he said, plucking a sparkling tankard from a hook above the bar and not bothering to await a reply, started to pull a pint of froth, spit and spume into the proffered glass. 'Bugger it...It's that bugger Neptune, 'e's not connected the buggering barrel.'

'The bugger', I agreed. Neptune being the cellar-man and rumour had it he had been the cellar man since Lyonesse; the Cornish name for Atlantis disappeared beneath the waves. Looking at him I tended to agree, a long white beard, hair reminiscent of a virulent form of Japanese seaweed; all he needed was the customary trident. 'Don't worry,' I said, 'I'll wait.'


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